If you had all your money in real estate and the real estate market tanked you’d be in a lot of trouble, financially at least. People with investments usually spread their money around into things like stocks, real estate, art, gold etc. The goal is for all the areas to gain value but it’s reassuring to know that if say real estate took a dive your other investments could compensate or at least limit your losses. Even within investment areas one should diversify. Using stocks as an example one could hold financial stocks, industrial stocks and resource stocks to spread the risk and hedge against one of these areas performing poorly.
We should really apply this diversity approach when investing in comic books. Comic collecting generally is nostalgia driven so collectors usually buy up memories of their youth like say Marvels from the 1970s or Dell Westerns from the 1950s or even X-Men titles from the 1990s. Comic investors will usually stick to their likes when making investments in comics. That 1970s Marvel fan now in his mid 40s will probably invest in comics like Amazing Spider-Man #129, Incredible Hulk #181, Marvel Spotlight #5, Tomb of Dracula #10 and others, grades will depend on his budget. This kind of collection is a preverbial ‘one basket’ and may not serve the investor well if he had to pull out during a time when the market is soft for these types of comics. Most collectors of comics are happy with their one basket because they are primarily collectors. Investors in comic books are driven by the bottom line and should look beyond their scope of interest when investing.
How many baskets are there in the world of comic book investing? Lots! Basic genres that are specifically collected include Crime, Horror, Funny Animal, Humour, Super Hero, Undergrounds, War, Romance and others. People usually collect eras as well and these eras can be looked upon as baskets. Platinum Age, Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age and Modern Age are often focused on individually by investors. Grade can also be a basket. Some invest in very high grade comics regardless of the era or genre. The combinations available by mixing genres with eras and then factoring in grades are quite numerous.
Bargains can be found through diversity. It’s hard to find a bargain these days when looking for the early Marvel keys (have you seen what Amazing Fantasy #15s are going for) but there are some quality Golden Age comics selling at auctions that are sure to appreciate nicely in the coming years as the hot areas of today’s comic market get ahead of themselves price wise. Look at it this way, if you diversify, you’ll never have an investment in comics consisting of 500 copies of the Death of Superman (the mother of all baskets).
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton, Ontario.